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New Army Battalion formed, installs Madroñal as Commander

Court summons Gov. Tan for Mandamus

DENR 8 intensifies forest protection efforts

US Embassy supports safe coverage of journalists for the Philippines’ 1st Automated Elections

PGMA visits San Jose De Buan, Samar inaugurates KBP projects

Figueroa, Redaja still lead in poll survey in Samar

Calbayog Prosecutor’s Office conducts marathon inquest proceedings against gun ban violators

KARAPATAN shows true color, calls for the release of 43 self confessed NPA

DILG-8 has a new leadership as Dir. Paler retires

One rebel slain in encounter





Ombudsman Visayas dismisses complaints vs. Leyte guv

By Provincial Media Relations Center
April 20, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The Office of the Ombudsman Visayas dismissed for lack of merits consolidated cases filed against Leyte Governor Carlos Jericho Petilla and Laurita Malubag, corporate secretary of Leyte Dokiks Corporation.

The said consolidated case stemmed from the complaints of Ricardo C. Cadayona Jr. and Jose M. Galapon filed before the Office of the Ombudsman in 2007 against the governor and Malubag for allegedly entering into two sets of Contracts of Lease in 2006 withpout authority from the Sangguniang Panlalawigan on the part of Gov. Petilla and without authority from the Board of Directors on the part of Malubag.

The Contracts of Lease concerns a 777 square meter lot located at Justice Romualdez St. in Tacloban City, and Stall Nos. 1-20, measuring about 23 square meters each located at the Leyte Academic Center.

Both questioned areas are owned by the province of Leyte and are now locations of Andok’s Dine-in.

In the resolution issued by the Ombudsman Visayas it stated that Gov. Petilla, for his defense, submitted a certified photocopy of Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 04-300 that grants him the “authority to enter into, sign contracts and/ or memorandum of agreements for all projects/ activities o be undertaken and/ or funded by the Province of Leyte.”

The governor also provided the Office of the Ombudsman a certified photocopy of Sangguniang Panlalawigan Resolution No. 07-168 approved unanimously which specifically ratifies the “two contracts of lease executed between the Provincial Government of Leyte and the Leyte Dokis Corporation over a parcel of land containing an area of 777 square meters located at J. Romualdez St., Tacloban City and over stall nos. 1-20 measuring 23 square meters each at the Leyte Academic Center in Candahug, Palo, Leyte”.

For her part, Malubag submitted copies of the minutes of the special meeting of the Board of Directors of Leyte Dokiks Corporation which stated that she was given authority to represent the company in the contract negotiations with the provincial government of Leyte for both of the aforementioned areas.

The Ombudsman resolved by saying “it is unequivocally established therefore that respondents were duly and amply authorized to execute the Contracts Lease” and dismisses the case for lack of merit.

The resolution was signed by Cynthia Maturan-Sibi, Chief Investigation and Prosecution Officer, reviewed by Assistant Ombudsman Visayas Virginia Palanca-Santiago and approved by Deputy Ombudsman for the Visayas Pelagio Apostol.





Region 8 stages Sayawan at Musikahan para sa Kalikasan to mark Earth Day 2010

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 20, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The Department of Environment and Natural Resources Regional Office 8 under the leadership of Regional Executive Director Primitivo C. Galinato, Jr., spearheads this year’s celebration of Earth Day on April 22 in Region 8.

RED Galinato disclosed that together with its partners from the private and public sectors, the DENR is staging an Earth Day program dubbed as Sayawan at Awitan para sa Kalikasan to be held at Robinson’s Place Tacloban at 2:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

The program will feature songs and dances to be showcased by the performances of the wide array of local artists and talents available in Eastern Visayas.

The Earth Day Program will be highlighted by the ceremonial sign up for the nationwide campaign called “10 Million Movement” which calls for signatures representing commitments of every citizen to undertake environment friendly actions for Mother Earth.

Before the program, a motorcade will be conducted along the major thoroughfares of Tacloban City starting from Plaza Rizal at 1:00 in the afternoon of April 22, 2010.

A Slogan Contest will be conducted during the program, RED Galinato said. The entries will be coming from the slogans posted on the vehicles of the different agencies which will join the motorcade.

The slogan must conform with this year’s Earth Day theme “Hamon ng Panahon, Climate Change, 10 Milyong Solusyon, Kilos Na, Ngayon Na.”

Presidential Proclamation No. 1481 which was signed by President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo on April 10, 2008, declared April 22 of every year as the Philippine Earth Day.

The celebration becomes more relevant as the entire humanity faces the threats of disasters all over the globe. These challenges require a sustained and united action involving all sectors of society to ensure the sustainable management of the environment.





Nat’l Council on Disability Affairs partners with PIA in the conduct of Regional Media Forum on Disability

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 20, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The National Council on Disability Affairs has partnered with the Philippine Information Agency Region 8 in the conduct of a Regional Media Forum on Disability at the Fine Dining Hall of the Ritz Tower de Leyte on April 22, 2010 from 8:00 o’clock in the morning to 1:00 o’clock in the afternoon.

Mr. Mateo Lee, Officer in Charge of the NCDA informed that the Region 8 Media Forum on Disability is the second in a three-phase Media Fora on Disability scheduled to be conducted in the country. The first was at Legaspi City, Region 5 for Luzon; Tacloban City, Region 8 for the Visayas and Butuan City Region 13 for Mindanao.

The Regional Forum on Disability aims to advocate various issues and concerns relevant to disability among media practitioners, information officers of national government agencies based in the regions and simultaneously promote the roles and responsibilities of government as far as disability is concerned.

Specifically, the Regional Forum hopes to orient the regional media practitioners and information officers of national government agencies based in the regions on the current status of disability programs undertaken by the government including the existing policies and mandates on disability.

It also hopes to increase awareness on disability issues that affect persons with disabilities, their families and the community where persons with disabilities are located.

The half-day forum will be participated in by media practitioners and information officers of national government agencies based in the Region.

It will consist of plenary discussions by resource persons on topics pertaining to their programs pertaining to disability and the question and answer portion and open forum to be raised by the participants and replied to by the resource persons.





Solon’s driver apprehended for carrying M16 firearms

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 19, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  A man who identified himself as the official driver of a Region 8 congressman, was apprehended on April 18 for carrying an M-16 firearm while traversing the road at Barangay Bato, Borongan, Eastern Samar.

The Philippine National Police Regional Director Rey L. Lañada informed that at around 4:00 o’clock in the afternoon, at the PNP-AFP-Comelec check point located at Barangay Bato, Borongan City, Eastern Samar, the check point team led by Police Senior Inspector Aquilino Pongcol routinely stopped a motor vehicle with plate number NIS 206 registered in the name of a certain Manuel Lim Chicano of 26 F. Calderon St., Project 4, Quezon City.

Said vehicle was driven by a man who identified himself as Ferdinand Montances, a resident of Barangay Cabong, Borongan City and the official driver of Congressman Teodolo M. Coquilla of the lone district of Eastern Samar.

Confiscated in plain view from the driver’s seat were one (1) M16 Colt with Serial Number 4908017 and one (1) magazine with twenty-three (23) live ammunitions.

Investigations conducted disclosed that said firearms was issued to PO2 Richard Oraller, the security officer of Congressman Coquilla.

Director Lañada said that appropriate administrative case will be filed against PO2 Oraller. The non-commissioned officer was relieved effective April 18 pending investigation of his case. He will also be included in the PNP Character and Aptitude Development Training Program.

Meanwhile, the driver together with the motor vehicle has been placed under the custody of the Eastern Samar Police Provincial Office, Director Lañada said. Appropriate charges will be filed against Mr. Montances, the good Director added.

Police Chief Superintendent Lañada said that violators of the Gun Ban Law will face criminal charges for illegal possession of firearms. In the case of policemen, they will be additionally slapped with appropriate administrative charges.

Further, the Police Regional Director reiterated his call for his men to strictly implement total gun ban in Eastern Visayas in support to the Comelec as part of the government measures being undertaken to ensure orderly and peaceful elections in May 2010.  (with data from PNP8)





No labor strike in Eastern Visayas in the last 7 years

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 19, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  The labor and business sectors in Eastern Visayas has matured a lot, and this is the reason why in the past few years, there has been zero labor strike in the Region, Department of Labor and Employment Region 8 Director Forter Puguon said.

Director Puguon's observation was a response to the querry of the local media as to why there have been no strikes of labor unions in the Region.

The maturity of the sector sprang with the realization that labor and business are interdependent and that differences between these two sectors could be settled through amicable talks and dialogues, with the government as the mediator.

Last year, nine CBA’s amounting to P59.1 Million were concluded even without the intervention of the National Conciliation and Mediation Board, an attached agency of DOLE, Director Juanito Geonzon, chief of NCMB 8 reported during the Media Forum held recently at the DOLE Conference Room.

Labor disputes become irreconcilable only when the two sectors do not meet and honestly communicate with one another. Many times, employees do not express what they feel when they are in front of the employers. Then they start telling their gripes to other people. This is where DOLE steps in, Director Puguon said.

Director Puguon said that it has always been a tripartite action, just like that of the Regional Tripartite Wage and Productivity Board where there the government, labor and business sectors are all represented.

Aside from employment facilitation where DOLE harness modern technology to make more efficient the matching of job vacancies and skills supply, DOLE also has another program which is employment preservation.

Director Puguon said that DOLE supports the promotion of industrial peace through education, expeditious and fair resolution of labor disputes, enhancement of labor-management cooperation and promotion of tri-partism in policy and decision making in order to preserve jobs and enhance the quality of employment in the country.

This is done through several programs such as dispute prevention and settlement program; and the workers organization, tripartism and empowerment program.

The key activities here, Director Puguon said, are Administrative Intervention for Dispute Avoidance; Labor Dispute Settlement and Prevention; Conciliation and Mediation; Voluntary Arbitration; Compulsory Arbitration; Promotion of Labor and Management Cooperation and Grievance Machinery; Labor Education; Tripartite Industrial Peace Council; Promotion of Unionism and Collective Bargaining; and Workers Organization and Development Program.





Fewest since 2006

Pinoys wanting to enter US nursing profession down 28% in 1Q; Still, 82,000 of them sought US jobs in 5 years

Press Release
April 19, 2010

MANILA, Philippines  –  The number of Filipino nurses seeking to practice their profession in America fell by 28 percent in the first quarter compared to a year ago, the Trade Union Congress of the Philippines (TUCP) reported Sunday.

Only 3,024 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time from January to March, down 1,170 from 4,194 in the same quarter of 2009, according to TUCP secretary-general and former Senator Ernesto Herrera.

The NCLEX refers to the licensure examination administered by the US National Council of State Boards of Nursing Inc.

"We are around 2006 levels in terms of the number of Filipino nurses taking the NCLEX for the first time and indicating their desire to enter the US nursing profession," said Herrera, former chairman of the Senate committee on labor, employment and human resources development.

Herrera said many recession-hit American employers are still reluctant to hire additional skilled foreign workers, including nurses.

"Instead of recruiting new practitioners, many American hospitals are simply asking their existing nursing staff to work extra," Herrera said.

With the American economy still emerging from a deep slowdown, Herrera said local governments there are struggling to cope with massive tax revenue shortfalls and stiff budget cuts.

"In the case of community hospitals and nursing homes run by state and city governments there, they are definitely reeling from funding constraints," Herrera said.

Due to the weak labor market in America, he said a growing number of Filipino nurses are seeking foreign employment opportunities elsewhere.

Here at home, Herrera also noted that the rush to obtain a nursing degree appears to have temporarily waned.

In Cebu, for instance, he said nursing schools that aggressively expanded their capacity in the last 12 months "have realized that fewer first-year students are actually entering nursing programs" compared to a year or two ago.

A total of 15,382 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time in the whole of 2009, down 5,364 or 26 percent from 20,746 in 2008.

In 2007, a total of 21,499 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time, up 6,328 or 42 percent from 15,171 in 2006. The 2006 figures were up 65 percent or 5,990 compared to the 9,181 Filipino nurses that took the NCLEX for the first time in 2005.

Over the last five years, a total of 81,979 Filipino nurses took the NCLEX for the first time.





Binay bats for JPEPA review

Press Release
April 18, 2010

MAKATI CITY  –  United Opposition (UNO) vice presidential candidate and Makati Mayor Jojo Binay wants a thorough review of the controversial Japan-Philippines Economic Partnership Agreement (JPEPA) following reports that only one Filipino nurse has passed the neighboring country’s national licensure exams.

The nurse is the first successful applicant from the Philippines under JPEPA. Two other nurses from Indonesia, which has a similar agreement with Tokyo, passed the test out of a total of 254 from both countries who took the nursing exams last February.

“Ang pangunahing dahilan kaya pumayag po tayo sa JPEPA ay dahil tatanggapin ang ating mga nurses,” Binay told a radio interview, “Pero nung mabasa ko po sa dyaryo ay wala naman talagang pangagailangan ang Japan para sa mga nurses. Meron silang mga nurses na dapat tanggapin.”

Almost 300 Filipino nurses and caregivers left the Philippines in 2008 and 2009 to train as caregivers in health institutions in Japan, a requirement prior to employment.

JPEPA, which was signed in 2006, is essentially an economic agreement aimed to promote trade and investments between Manila and Tokyo, but the Arroyo administration presented the pact as a milestone to facilitate the entry of 400 Filipino nurses and 600 caregivers who will take care of Japan’s aging population.

Even the Philippine Nurses Association had opposed JPEPA because the agreement will only expose Filipino nurses to discrimination and shortchange the professional qualification of nurses. The group also feared that Filipino nurses would end providing cheap labor if they failed to meet the stringent language requirement.

“Isa po sa mga bumoto diyan ay si Senator Mar Roxas. Tinutulan po iyan ng oposiyon dahil hindi nga ito pantay ang usapan pero nanaiig na pa rin dahil ang sinasabi nila ay maraming trabahong ibibigay pero sa totoo lang ay wala namang bakante,” Binay explained.

“Tama lang na rebyuhin natin ‘yan. Ang isa sa come on sa atin ay bibigyan ng trabaho ang ating mga nurses pero hindi po mangyayari ‘yan,” he pointed out.

Binay also criticized the onerous terms of the bilateral deal, particularly the provisions that allowed access to Japanese businesses to utilize land and natural resources, among others.

“Bakit kailangang ibigay ang malaking bahagi ng ating lupa samantalang pwede naman tayong mamuhunan sa paggamit nito? Ang paggamit ng natural resources ay ibinukas natin sa mga Hapon na hindi naman dapat dahil tayo mismo ang dapat mag-develop dito,” Binay pointed out.

“Kailangang tingnan natin ang mga kondisyones nito na dapat sana ay napapaboran tayo ng tama,” the UNO vice presidential bet added.





Homonhon Island is a mining hot spot, MGB-8 says

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 18, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Mines and Geo-sciencies Bureau Region 8 Director Roger A. De Dios said that Homonhon Island in Guiuan, Eastern Samar is considered a mining hot spot area.

In a report sent in by Engr. Dante Operario, MGB Information Officer, Director De Dios said that subsistence miners from the six barangays in Homonhon Island have formed into cooperatives. Most of them were reported to have been conducting illegal mining activities within the area of Cambayas Mining.

However, some of them have transferred to the adjacent exploration permit area of Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration & Development Corporation.

Director De Dios said that although the mining operations in the island has improved the quality of life of the miners and likewise contributed to the economy of the island through the production of chromite concentrates which are used as alloy for metals, the Mines & Geosciences Bureau Region 8 will look into the environmental situation to ensure protection, enhancement and give due considerations to the environment affected by the mining activities.

The illegal mining activity of the subsistence miners in Homonhon has created an environmental degradation to the island, Director De Dios said.

At present, the DENR Secretary has approved the MPSA of Cambayas Mining Corporation at Brgy. Casuguran, Homonhon, while Mt. Sinai Mining Exploration & Development Corporation has been awarded a Joint Operating Agreement (JOA) with the Philippine Mining Development Corporation (PMDC), a government owned corporation to conduct exploration activity in the area of Brgy. Kanawayon.

Likewise, MGB-R08 has issued an Exploration Permit to Emir Mineral Resources Corp. at Brgy. Casuguran, also in Homonhon Island.

It may be recalled that sometime in March 2009, the MGB-08 has confiscated around 250 sacks of chromite concentrates from three Chinese nationals who were buying chromites from the subsistence miners in the island.

These confiscated chromite concentrates which are now deposited at Barangay Casuguran under the custody of their Brgy. Chairman, Hon. Dolores Codotco, are now under confiscation proceedings by the MGB-08.  (with data from MGB8)





Anti-A(H1N1) vaccine now available in Eastern Visayas, DOH says

By Philippine Information Agency (PIA 8)
April 17, 2010

TACLOBAN CITY  –  Department of Health Regional Director Edgardo Gonzaga informed the Philippine Information Agency that Anti- H1N1 vaccines are now available in Region 8.

Director Gonzaga said that the DOH in the region is currently conducting orientation-seminars for health workers, on the vaccines against A(H1N1).

The good Director added that a Media Briefing will be conducted on April 26 regarding the anti-H1N1 vaccine as the agency embarks on an intensive information campaign regarding the vaccine.

Director Gonzaga said the vaccines donated by the World Health Organization (WHO) will be distributed for free among high-risk groups or individuals such as those who are pregnant, health workers, children below five years and the elderly.

He added that the DOH will post notices at barangay (village) health centers to notify high-risk groups of their vaccination schedule.

The initial batch of anti-swine flu vaccine is the first out of five tranches to complete the nine million doses promised by the WHO to be shipped into the country.

Under WHO guidelines, at least ten percent of the general population or 9 million Filipinos should be able to avail of the A(H1N1) vaccination but high-risk groups will be given priority.

It would be recalled that Region 8 was not spared when the new flu hit the country last year.





Arroyo should stop blaming critics for negative survey rating – Binay

April 16, 2010

MAKATI CITY  –  United Opposition (UNO) vice presidential candidate Jejomar C. Binay has told Malacañang to stop blaming critics for Mrs. Arroyo’s very bad satisfaction rating in a recent survey conducted by the Social Weather Stations (SWS).

“They should stop blaming the opposition and the media. She has no one to blame but herself. As the song goes, nobody, nobody but you Mrs. Arroyo,’" he said.

“Her negative 53 percent rating is the outcome of public outrage over the scandals, the disrespect for the law, and the misery she inflicted on the poor through such oppressive measures as the Expanded Value Added Tax (EVAT)," he said.

The survey, conducted from March 19-22, showed that only 16 percent of Filipinos were satisfied with Mrs. Arroyo while a whopping 69 percent were dissatisfied with her performance, thus resulting in a net satisfaction of -53 percent.

This is a 15 percent drop from -38 percent in December 2009, surpassing her previous record low rating of negative 50 posted in July 2008.

“Had this embarrassing rating of a national leader happened in the United Kingdom or Japan, it could have led to resignations. But here, Mrs. Arroyo is blaming everyone else except herself," Binay said.

Binay cited the scandals that have plagued the Arroyo administration, such as the NBN-ZTE broadband deal, excessive travel spending, the P728-million fertilizer scam, and the World Bank suspension of its $232 million loan for road improvement due to collusion and corruption.

He also noted the country’s continued rise in the ranks of the world’s most corrupt nations, unresolved extrajudicial killings, the merciless slaying of journalists in Maguindanao, attempts to coddle political allies who run afoul of the law and the massive cheating in the 2004 presidential election.

“The problem is that officials of this government think they can get away with abusing the people. The nation has never witnessed such blatant disregard for the rule of law, and rampant graft and corruption in the government as in the past nine years. And they always get caught with their hands in the cookie jar,” he said.

“If Malacañang wants somebody to blame for Mrs. Arroyo’s lack of popularity – if they want to pin this on anyone, they only have to look at their boss,” he said.

The opposition leader said their campaign has consistently focused on issues.

“Our campaign platform is simple. Good governance, social equity, peace and order and economic development. Has this government been able to deliver these? I guess that is the only barometer that needs to be considered now,” Binay said.



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